KEEPERS OF THE CRAFT
Text: Diego Armand
Photos: Michelle Yee
Pilsner Urquell’s Keeper of the Craft series is an exploration of true and local craftsmanship and their events celebrate the dedication that comes from wanting to produce the best of your craft. It’s not often we get invited to food and drink events so I was delighted to have the opportunity to experience something new involving one of my favourite restaurants in the city. (Read More)
It was already a great start to the day. It began with a beer! We (photog Michelle Yee, and I) instantly noticed Bar Isabel’s executive Chef Grant Van Gameren, carving up jamón alongside multiple colourful and delicious tapas plates found on their signature menu. But we were wondering why no one was eating?
If you haven’t been to Bar Isabel yet, it’s probably because you haven’t been able to make a reservation. It’s the best mix of casual dining with a mixed crowd that still makes you want to put some effort in how you look. It could also be why it’s still one of the most talked about (and booked solid) restaurants in the city. But most importantly it's the Spanish tapas style menu that will make you want to crave the place after your first visit.
Bar Isabel's executive chef, Grant Van Gameren carves Jamón Iberico de Bellota.
Bar Isabel was born after Grant spent a two-month long trip to Europe (the first time he travelled out of the country since the age of 16). After travelling to Copenhagen and Italy he eventually landed in Spain, where he fell in love with the people, the architecture and most importantly the food and the approach to social eating. Since then he’s been a handful of times and always brings back new inspiration to the Little Italy-located hot spot.
It turns out our interactive experience was a casual Pincho competition. Pinchos are small snacks eaten in bars in San Sebastian, Spain. They are made of ready-to-eat ingredients stacked on a slice of bread held together by a skewer (the word actually means spike). They definitely look and taste better than I could ever describe, especially when you have the choice of using delicious elements like cured meats, cheeses and canned seafood direct from Spain. Van Gameren emphasized that canned seafood is a cherished ingredient in Europe and is much more fresh (and pricier) than the Canadian selection. We were lucky to have had him include some examples from his very recent to Spain.
Historic Fort York (left), our Pincho ingredients (right.)
We were then put into smaller groups and encouraged to use every ingredient and make a mess big with napkins as they wanted this to be the ultimate hands-on experience. The refreshing unfiltered Pilsner Urquell helped to get our creative juices (and confidence) flowing. Some pinchos were sky-high and mouth-watering.
I have to admit a bit of anxiety kicked in when I found out we would be competing with food. Although I'm a huge fan of great food (and food TV) I would definitely categorize myself as a novice when it comes to making it. But this was more about creative assembly, making sure the right flavours and textures were combined, with a serious element of presentation added in.
I opted for a simple breakfast-sandwich approach of jamón, quail egg and tomato with a pickle on top of a slice of bread. Once we were finished we had to present our best pincho on a platter and eagerly wait for Grant to pick the best in show. More importantly, once the prize pincho was selected we had to finish whatever ingredients left at our workstation. Don’t mind if we do, as long as there was cold beer to wash it down.
Group Green's pinchos in the running.
Former Canadian Olympic volleyball player Martin Reader stacks his submissions.
What stuck out the most was that when I ran into Sidewalk Hustle’s Hawley Dunbar earlier in the day I asked her if she was ready to make some food, and instead she told me she was “ready to win.” And that she did! I was fortunate enough to eat her pincho and it was definitely worthy of her proud, winning smile. She won dinner for two at Bar Isabel, but I wonder if it includes a guaranteed reservation?
Sidewalk Hustle's Hawley Dunbar's winning smile with Grant Van Gameren (also pictured with Tristan Banning in top left), Harry Rosen's Adam Martin (far right.)
At Perfecto we mostly like to discuss ideas of style and fashion within our lifestyle but what really spoke to us from an experience like this was this idea of true collaboration (this time, a top notch but still casual restaurant mixed with a long standing beer company) but also the idea of preserving hands-on experiences and showing that loving what you do can come from passion and the little details you put into it. – Diego Armand
Bar Isabel is at 797 College St, Toronto, (416) 532-2222 @bar_isabel
ALL I CAN DO IS
LOVE YOU TO PIECES
Photos: Patrick Lacsina
Styling: Patrick Lacsina
Grooming: Mark Jordy Gonzales
TERRAZZA DI PERONI 2014
Story: Michelle Yee
Photos: May Truong
While people-watching and free beer are always huge draws, I was definitely there to see the collaborations created for the Peroni Art Series, where nine Canadian luminaries were invited to share their personal snapshots captured in Italy, as well as their stories behind them. The images and memories were then re-imagined by emerging Canadian artists who each created original artwork that captured these personal connections. Personally, I’m in love with all things Italian. I am in love with the culture, style, design, architecture, I even married a good Italian boy and I of course love the food as if it were my birthright. And clearly, I’m not alone.
One of the first pieces that drew me in was a monochromatic piece created by Ianick Raymond. While his work can often be up to 8 feet in width and is rarely in a circular format, there was a radiant energy in his methodical and meticulous piece that invited closer inspection and called to my inner sci-fi geek. Its perfect symmetry, precise angles and exacting shades of grey speak to a process that possesses patience and persistence in spades.
Which makes it easy to connect the dots in reverse from Raymond’s painting to the original photograph of Rome’s famed Pantheon, captured by fashion director George Antonopoulos. While he has only been to Italy a few times, on each visit he somehow found himself at the Pantheon.
Having been there myself, it’s hard not to be deeply affected by the architectural wonder. The Pantheon, with its famed oculus, was reportedly built in 126AD. I can barely put together a chair from Ikea but the Romans somehow could envision and build such a magnificent place, over 1800 years ago. Antonopoulos was kind to laugh at my dad joke (which was still mostly true.)
Next to Raymond and Antonopoulos’ collaboration was the vibrant and evocative piece created by the pairing of founder / designer of the label 18 Waits, Daniel Torjman, with painter Andy DeCola.
Torjman’s original photograph features him and his father, walking together on a street in Rome during their first ever trip to Italy together. In the photo, Torjman is seen writing in his Field Notes book (a constant companion), while his father strolls alongside, imparting wisdom like falling leaves. It is a photo that poetically encapsulates Italian family values.
It was up to Andy DeCola to re-imagine Torjman’s original photograph and as DeCola’s process involves using appropriated images as well as layering paintings upon paintings, being paired together with Torjman was, in his words, “a perfect fit.”
Using Torjman’s photo as a starting point, both visually and thematically, DeCola rendered the photo and then layered overtop the abstracted image of a mountain top, suggesting the journey that Torjman and his father embarked upon. With its rich and bold colour palette, it transforms that personal moment in Torjman’s history and invites the viewer to recall their own memories of happy times shared with family.
Of which I have many. If there was one thing that I’ve learned since marrying into my Italian family, they really do know how to live la vita bella, and I’ve never wanted to go back to visit as I do now.
-Michelle Yee is a photographer who also fancies herself to be an occasional writer and, in a perfect world, would surf every day and own a carefully curated shoe collection.
JOSEPH OF MERCURY
Photographer: May Truong
Art Direction: J.T. Ivanov
Style Editor + Text :
There’s a new rising star bubbling up in the Toronto music scene. Joseph W. Salusbury of Joseph & the Mercurials is bringing his version of dreamy meets aquatic “'50’s blue-eyed new wave” sound across parties in the city. He’s got a tall stature and classic good looks that hints at a young Chris Isaak. He’s usually clad head to toe in a white leather perfecto, a white tee and white jeans. It perfectly reflects the stage lighting in his show only adding more drama to his music and performance.
Creatively, J&TM is a one-man operation. He realizes his vision from studio to stage. And although, visually everything is carefully thought-of and calculated, on stage he still maintains that combination of ambition and vulnerability that a great new artist has - great performer with nervous moments. In person part of him is still the endearingly awkward kid I met years ago. Since then he’s exceedingly both grown as an artist and in the social scene, which brings him to where he is today.
This week he’ll be performing at the AGO Massive 10 party. A wild fundraiser for the Art Gallery of Ontario known for breaking new artists. I caught up with Joseph to talk about our usual suspects at Perfecto: music, style as well as the upcoming show.
some clothing provided by Gitman Brothers Vintage, available at Nomad, 819 Queen st. W. Toronto
P: What do you do?
J: I am a musician/performer/recording artist.
P: How long have we known each other?
J: God, Well not all my life, but since before I was a real person... 6 years?
P: Sounds about right, how do we know each other?
J: I attended the House of Helder Institute for the betterment of Music, Style, Art, Fashion &... is there anything else...? (Smiles.)You were among a team of mentors (PHANTOMS) in a time when I was learning what it was to be a unique social creature. It was during a time when I was learning how to be a person who takes an active role in their own identity. exemplifying the importance of challenging what you are, not just going with what is...
I think I turned out alright...
P: How would you say you’ve changed since then?
J: I have found a voice, literally and figuratively. I found an identity, at first only on stage, but at some point it followed me home. I found things to live for & long for, love, lust, the spaces in between.
P: 5 words that describe your music?:
J: Haunting, Hopeful, Dramatic, Romantic, Oceanic
P: What's the driving force behind your music?
J: Desire & the distance that exists between us and that which we feel we can't live without, people/places/things...The pain that comes from that distance, the power & romance that comes from racing towards that desire.
P: Use 5 words that describe your personal style?
J: Ragged, Retro, Slick, Future, WHITE
P: Yes what is it about all white?
J: It all actually started with my first Dreamcoat. It was the day before my first show, and I wanted something special to wear. It was hanging there... overlooked by others, waiting for me to lay my eyes and hands upon it. The moment I put it on was more of a beginning for me than anything else.
It has all come from that perfect moment of random destiny. Destiny in the shape of a white leather moto.
P: Sounds Perfecto to us. When it comes to fashion do you work with anyone specifically to shape your vision?
J: Other than the choice pieces from local designers whose aesthetic suits my own: Beaufille, Sid Neigum, Krane, Evan Biddell. Toronto's unmatched stylist extraodinaire Sarah Jay has also been know to hand me one of a kind fashion from another world, I don't ask questions, I just put it on and enjoy the perfect fit.
P: You were recently in London. What did you do there?
J: Walked the streets, met the people. I'm not much for seeing sights. I like to come across them by accident. I wanted to lay a first foundation, and start a dance with the city. I’m hoping to be back and forth for a while and it will develop a gradual courtship. What I really want to do is perform - on it's stages, in it's churches and tunnels, anywhere with an echo.
P: Was there anything different from what you expected it to be?
J: The same thing I felt in Paris when I was there a month or so back. People are people. Art is art. Music is music...slightly different from place to place but at its core, rather similar. There are particular characteristics to the people here, but only the locals. And like Toronto, when you're out you don't run into many... I've learned not to have expectations, but it was actually pretty sunny, I expected more rain & grey...
P: Are you from Toronto?
J: Yes I am. I was born here. I'd say I'd die here but i'm convinced i'll find a way to live forever.
P: Can you talk about being in the music scene at home in Toronto? So many emerging and successful musicians/artists in the industry today are from here. How has it developed your talent?
J: It's rich & diverse. Toronto is a hot city for the creation of music. I wish we had more venues to perform in. I wish we had more stages in-between the "Dive Bars" and the "Music Halls"... As far as the community, it's always a bit of a balance. It's like any relationship. If you get too reliant on it, you'll only end up weakened or hurt by it. I try to reach out through all my worlds & communities.
P: Name some artists you'd love to collaborate with. Anyone's else's work you're a big fan of?
J: I'd love to work with another strong vocalist - Lana Del Ray, Florence Welch, Abel of the Weeknd. A dream would be Bowie & completely out of left field, Beyonce.
The dancer/drummer in me longs to get in the studio with Gesaffelstein, Trentemøller or James Murphy.
I like a lot of music, but I'm a terrible fan. I'm not a collector of music. I’d actually rather not know who a song is by. I guess in my mind if I’m meant to hear it again I will. It will find me somehow at the right moment. I let music come to me, as I'm usually busy writing my own. I am also a true believer, as an artist, in giving oneself the space to create something new. In this I try not to listen to too many things. There is always ebb & flow to this belief, but I attempt in the days & nights to spend more of my time creating than taking in.
P: You'll be playing the AGO Massive party (this Thursday in Toronto), any hints you can tell us about the show? J: Without saying too much…It will be a journey into a far more visual performance than I have ever attempted. I'll be working with Toronto based production company Light x Hevvy to create something powerful for the eyes.
As for the particulars, you'll have to show up to see it happen in all its stylized glory.
P: Ok let's talk about Multi-tasking. What are your other passions/talents?
J: It's all connected to what I'm doing, but beyond the purely musical aspect,Fashion & design take up a fair few of my thoughts.
I'm ever more a social animal as the years go by. I do enjoy chasing the night till the light of morning.
Dancing all night is definitely an activity you introduced me to.
I'm also a drummer which is a very different relationship to music than anything else I do.
I’m part of a project called Bella Akira with Zion Forrest Lee (local man about town, BoyTech alumni, & burgeoning coffee shop mogul)
I also happen to be a certified Yoga Teacher. Health/wellness is a rather important pillar in my life.
Another favourite activity if aimlessly wandering the streets, all the better for some bright eyed company.
P: Ok, eat? drink? shop? (Toronto) Name your favourite places
J: I don't really eat (that's an entirely different article).
I very rarely drink...
On the maybe 5 nights of the year I do, (usually in the company of one or both of the only two people in this world who can convince me to down a shot...) You can find me at Repesado spending a small fortune on a tequila.
Shop-wise, I frequent the vintage variety stockpiling white leather jackets. 69 Vintage, House of Vintage, Public Butter, the Kensington strip.
P: What's next for you?
J: Well... There are hopes and tasks. The hope is bigger & grander shows, videos, visibility...
MASSIVE PARTY is a fortunate step on this path. There are other steps as well, but i am not at liberty to speak of them at this time. Keep your eyes up & open as it were.
The tasks... A forthcoming second EP, & then I imagine the first album. I'm quite happily buried in content. I've been writing non-stop for years. It's just about finding the right & perfect "ONES" to bring together in that grand cohesive vision. Almost more important than this is selecting the right & perfect people to join with and bring it forward into reality.
There is already a lot in the works. I am in middle of many conversations at the moment. At the end of one I will say "Yes" & then we'll see what happens.
My instincts say... something rather good.
Listen to his latest releases here:
Next Stop: Popzealous
Text: Carsten Helmut Vagani
Photos: Kristy Leibowitz +
Carsten Helmut Vagani talks about both sides of the pop + performance
Lately, it’s been hard to ignore the trend towards overproduced artificiality in pop music. Needless to say, the picture-perfect form of mainstream pop can currently be found in South Korea. Taking cues from North American and European boy/girl bands at the start of millennium, big-ticket South Korean superpop bands like Big Bang, Girls Generation and their peers have been delivering perfectly overproduced (and choreographed) singles for years.(Read More)
The most successful and iconic pop figure being G-Dragon. He blessed the world with an overwhelming hyper-styled high-definition color spectacle in his videos and live shows, to the delight of a mesmerized worldwide fan-base. Smooth and polished, here we see mainstream pop at its finest and most commercial. When watching G-Dragon’s futuristic videos, not only do the lyrics and music feel interchangeable, the whole package feels as artificial (but yet still tasty) as a happy meal. While one has to acknowledge the perfect execution and the mainstream appeal, it can get old fast and leave one yearning for some authenticity. Shiny, spotless Pop, ultra-light for the insta gratification generation.
Can the same be said for outside Asia? For pop stars in the US, it seems that trying too hard is the way to go and to project individuality in order to mask the music industry assembly line feel of the full package. Pretty young things like the now “edgy” (and newsworthy) Miley Cyrus are making endless efforts and antics to be relevant while referencing the Pop influencers of past decades as well as underground artists and musicians. (her more recent Madonna-esque concert masturbation nod is a perfect example). It feels like the music itself is indeed a secondary element and the artists’ image is the only thing of importance.
Ironically however, in order to dig deeper into the Popzealous phenomenon, one has to leave the world of music and enter the world of contemporary art which often serves as the divine inspiration for today’s pop music performance landscape. Pop Queens Beyoncé and Lady Gaga have been outed for referencing the work of many contemporary artists. Decisive and completely uninhibited, enter Narcissister (a Brooklyn based artist and performer) who takes it further than any pop star ever could. Never to be seen without a hair-raising doll mask that covers only the upper half of her face (think a live performing mannequin or Barbie), she is a stunning performance artist of the most entertaining kind. Narcissister muses on today’s omnipresent superficiality one performance at a time, mixing blatant and raw sexuality with discomforting and equally amusing erotic dance routines. For her it’s about loving her own body and being pornographic in an art context.
She has a solid performance background to back it up. She danced with the Alvin Ailey American Dance theatre and then eventually fell into the downtown NYC burlesque scene during the early 2000’s. Combined with her experience as a window dresser for stores like ABC Home & Carpet, which inspired her fascination with the haunting and empty allure of a mannequin, Narcissister was created.
She later tried to bring her avant-garde vision to the masses. In 2011 she auditioned for the American-dream focused reality Gong show, America’s Got Talent, where she advanced to further stages until she silenced the crowd and judges by squirting mustard out of large fake breasts onto a giant hot dog and was sent home. (Another inspiration for Miley perhaps?)
During her meticulously choreographed shows, the viewer can’t help but wonder if ambiguity and intentions loom somewhere deep below - and they will never walk away disappointed. And although the mass market audience may not understand her ideas at first, Narcissister’s oeuvre is a brilliant and to-the-point comment on today’s un-inspired global Pop-artificiality and the generic superficiality of today’s culture. And thus makes her, painstakingly contemporary and relevant.
Narcissister performs at the Whitney Houston Biennale in Brooklyn on March 9, 2014.
Live from Hong Kong and Tokyo, I'm Carsten Helmut Vagani for PerfectoMag.com
For more info:
NARCISSISTER: www.narcissister.com, her performance ‘Hot Lunch’ can be viewed here
Like her on facebook
G-DRAGON: Video for G-Dragon’s latest single 미치GO
Narcissister’s Photos to be credited as
‘Every Woman’: Courtesy of the artist and envoy enterprises, New York, Photo by Tony Stamolis
‘Workout’: Courtesy of the artist and envoy enterprises, New York,
Chris + Char
Photographer: May Truong
Art Direction: May Truong
Editor: Diego Armand
Production: Donna Keosi
Happy Valentine's Day!
Chris Aznar (left) and Char Feliciano (right) are so good together that they make other couples look bad, like actually. We invited them over to our studio to shoot their favourite looks and we probably could have shot for days! But beyond their cool, casual but refined personal style we definitely saw two people who are very much in love. Something about the way they would subtly interact and look at each other (like good clothes, big love is all in the details). It's always so cute to see when couples are so connected and whose styles influence each other, they either compliment each other perfectly or end up dressing exactly alike. Always making one harmonious (and well dressed) item. (read more from Char and Chris)
All clothes are Chris' and Char's own.
Perfecto: How long have you been together?
Chris: 2 1/2 yrs. Seems like 30 (yrs) because of how well we know each other, yet feels like yesterday because of the unreasoning passion of love called infatuation. Hot dayyuum she fine. She's such a flirt though.
Char: What a joker! It does feel like I've known Chris longer. It was definitely love at first sight :)
P: How did two meet?
Chris: Through a mutual friend. Her eyes got me.
Char: He definitely smooth talked me...
P: What’s your relationship secret(s)?
Chris:Respect for each other. if you don't have this as a foundation, then it'll only be a one night stand ha! On a real, I believe you can't love, trust or do any of those things to keep a relationship positive without respect. I also feel our personalities are very alike.
Char: I agree with Chris, but really I don't think there's a secret to any relationship. I think having a good balance and just being each other's biggest support in anything we do.
P: How has your style influenced each other:
Chris: I've always looked at women's fashion/style for inspiration. Char's style is off the chain. She wears my clothes and makes it look better on her than on me ha! I think she influenced me to become more casual, which I love because that's how I've always love to dress.
Char: My style has definitely evolved more when I met Chris. I love when Chris goes shopping for new clothes because I wear his clothes all the time, haha.
P: Who has the bigger closet?
Chris: Well, she wears my all my clothes, so...her.
Char: Chris is definitely lying here. I don't have as much clothing and shoes as him. So him for sure.
P: Anything you can think of that each other has worn but have hated?
Chris: I hated that she wore clothes in general, I'd prefer nothing if possible... waddup, ma!
Char: LOL! Nothing really. Chris can make a rice sack look high fashion. (You'll see what I mean in the summer-lol)
P: Anything each other is wearing now that you could do without?
Chris: I think she hated my birks at first, but I know she knows I can rock them (even with socks on...trusst)
Char: The only thing I tell him to get rid of are clothes he doesn't wear anymore so I can make space for my stuff.
P: Chris, you seem pretty popular on Instagram (over 8,000 followers) How did that happen?
Chris: Well, I would buy followers whenever I received my paycheque lol. Can you believe that people would actually buy followers?? Umm, I've always been interested in trying to inspire other people. I think that when you trust your own vision, people will be moved whether it is related to fashion or how you capture frames. I try to show on my feed that style isn't necessarily related to being able to put outfits together or anything, but rather being inspired by things like music, and understanding culture. I always hope that comes across on my feed, and that followers will be inspired to post in a manner that caters to their own style.
P: Since you’re very involved and savvy in social media, has it affected your relationship in any way?
Chris: In some ways, it probably brings us closer together. The random "I love yous, I miss yous, how's your day" text messages reassures that you're always beside one another. Does it ever create distance? Nah, Char always makes sure that when we're about to watch a movie at home, she hides our phones to assure quality time well spent, ha!
Char: It's true, I make sure NO phones are in sight during our quality time.
P: You recently got engaged, congrats! Have you started to think about your wedding and what to wear?
Chris: Char is on the next level ish with this, ha. I'm thinking of going with some classic Filipino attire ("barong"). I want to keep it organic and in accord with my roots, but finding a modern fit could be a challenge. However, I'm still open to anything at this point.
Char: Honestly, I am all over the place with dress ideas. I think for me it really depends on where we choose the destination (yes it will be a destination wedding!) then I can decide on what look I'll be going for. Definitely something classic and timeless.
P: Ok, time for EAT? DRINK? SHOP? (TORONTO)
Chris: EAT? NEW HO DAMN KING! LOL! We love to brunch, and we go through phases with eating out. Currently, we go to The White Brick Kitchen for brunch. Dope spot. Pho Tein Thanh on Ossington is ill.
DRINK? Bellwoods Brewery for some local beer.
SHOP? I don't particularly have a favourite place to shop, because I think it would limit you.
Char: EAT? I love La Carnita for the fish tacos.
SHOP? I like to shop Chris' closet (lol) but I do own a lot of clothing from Club Monaco, and whenever Aritzia and Zara have sales they are my go-tos.
P: Char, any beauty tips & secrets you'd want to disclose?
Char: Hmm.. this is tough. I would say I can't live without my Shu Umuera eyelash curler/brow pencil/cleansing oil and Too Faced bronzer. I also love my Baby Lips to moisturize chapped lips. I actually only use one styling product on my own hair which is my Bumble and Bumble surf spray (I like the feeling of having dirty hair haha). Quick beauty tip to take your makeup from day to night? Lashes, liner and a red lip.
P: Lastly, any Valentine’s day plans?
Chris: Char will be working late that day. I will be waiting for her in the parking lot. My Valentine's present will be a free ride.
Char: Everyday should be Valentine’s day! I'll be working late that day so maybe we will grab Burrito Boyz on the way home lol.
FOLLOW them on instagram @MR_AZNAR + @CHAR_FEL
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